Aunt Gertrude, our elderly character, and her niece Milly, the attorney in fact through Aunt Gertrude’s Power of Attorney, face life every day, just like you and I do. The difference is that there is this added level of responsibility for Milly. She not only takes care of her own life, her own needs, and her own dreams, but she is the attorney in fact for her Aunt Gertrude. So what does that mean to Milly? What added responsibility does Milly carry? And what does Milly get for taking on this burden?
How about payment?
This step is often completely overlooked. Aunt Gertrude and Milly could make a fair arrangement of payment-for-services. In most cases, Power of Attorney documents are drafted as a part of a complete package of protective documents – Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Medical Directives, Power of Attorney, and so on. Payment is not a consideration when you are discussing the creation of a ‘safety net.’
You should be aware, however, that it is completely within the bounds of the law for a principal (here, Aunt Gertrude) to pay an agent (here, the attorney in fact, Niece Milly) for work that is performed by the agent on behalf of the principal.
So what is fair?
The answer to that is as diverse as our great country is diverse. Aunt Gertrude and her Niece Milly are free to negotiate any agreement they like. Perhaps if they approach this subject now, before any misunderstandings occur, they will be less likely to have a ‘cat fight’ later if a problem occurs between them (like Milly helping herself to something that, perhaps, is more than her dear Auntie would have liked – like her MONEY!).
This topic is a new one within the power of attorney discussion. We’ll move this along a little further the next time.
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